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Rent the Runway Lays Off Retail Workers Amidst Coronavirus Crisis

As it battles the pressures of the coronavirus, Rent the Runway is laying off some retail workers.

The apparel rental company, which was valued at $1 billion as of March 2019, confirmed to FN today that it has eliminated some positions as it grapples with the unprecedented crisis. It did not specify the number of roles that were slashed.

“Like many businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, Rent the Runway has had to make some difficult decisions in the short term to thrive in the long term which include temporary store closures and retail role eliminations,” a spokesperson told FN. “We are striving to make this transition as seamless as possible for our employees, from compensation to continuation of health insurance coverage. While we don’t have a sense of how long our business will be impacted, we remain committed to serving and supporting our employees and customers during this challenging time.”

Brands and retailers across the fashion and footwear industry are feeling financial pressures as stores are forced to temporarily close and panicked shoppers cut their discretionary spending. Executives from companies including Macy’s, Puma and Dick’s Sporting Goods are forfeiting their salaries as the virus puts a strain on cash. And DSW parent Designer Brands Inc. and department store giant Nordstrom both made the difficult decision last week to furlough workers.

Rental services are grappling with another problem amidst the coronavirus: Customer concerns about the possibility of disease transmission through their rented apparel and accessories. Rent the Runway sent a memo to customers earlier this month assuring that products are “thoroughly cleaned” between wears.

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“While scientific information is still developing, we have no reason to believe that our processes are ineffective against COVID-19,” the note read. “The teams in our fulfillment centers will continue to use a variety of techniques to ensure that each garment is thoroughly cleaned, steamed and pressed, inspected for quality and carefully packaged so that it arrives ready to wear.”

As of Sunday morning EST, there have been more than 684,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus worldwide. Over 32,000 people have been killed by COVID-19, the disease the coronavirus causes.

Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to include a statement from Rent the Runway.

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